Welcome to the weekly installment of my “NHL Games To Watch” betting column. I’ll preview some of the marquee NHL games each week taking place between Thursday and Sunday targeting some interesting betting spots and looking for potential value with undervalued sides and totals throughout the season.
Arizona Coyotes @ Tampa Bay Lightning
Thursday, Jan. 9, 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT
The Arizona Coyotes were on a three-game winning streak before their eastern trip this week, but they are suffering cluster injuries at the most important position in hockey. Darcy Kuemper and Antti Raanta, their two top goalies, are injured, leaving AHL call-ups Adin Hill and Ivan Prosvetov. Arizona had managed to go 4-3 in its last seven games without Kuemper. The offense had picked up the slack, as the Coyotes had scored 28 goals in eight games before facing Florida on Tuesday night. Tampa Bay is playing its best hockey of the season and had won seven in a row heading into Tuesday night’s game against Vancouver to start a lengthy homestand. Tampa Bay wasn’t in a playoff spot before its winning streak but is now holding down a potential place in the playoffs. Nikita Kucherov had five points in Tampa Bay’s last four games playing on a dynamic and explosive top line with Steven Stamkos and Brayden Point. With both goalies down, Arizona has been compromised on defense, and it has shown with the Coyotes’ goal allowance rising recently. Arizona has averaged 2.5 goals against this season, but that number had ballooned to three over the last 10 games. I think goals will be on the menu in this game, making the Over worth a wager.
Nashville Predators @ Winnipeg Jets
Sunday, Jan. 12, 2 p.m. ET/11 a.m. PT
This will be the Predators’ third game since firing Peter Laviolette and replacing him with former Devils coach John Hynes. Laviolette guided Nashville to back-to-back division titles the previous two seasons and to the Stanley Cup Final in 2016-17, but he and assistant Kevin McCarthy were shown the door with the squad only four points out of a playoff spot. Hynes will be tasked with trying to turn around what has been a disappointing Nashville team that has struggled to get offensive contributions beyond the top line and has declined significantly on defense. Combined with shaky goaltending from Pekka Rinne and Juuse Saros, the first half of the season has been sluggish. Winnipeg has also struggled of late, going 3-5-2 in its last 10 games. But the Jets sit in a better position, holding the final wild-card spot in the Western Conference. The Jets have been fine offensively, but defensive problems have started to show again as they try to hold the fort with a very young and thin blue-line corps allowing four or more goals in five of their last seven games. This is not the greatest scheduling spot for Winnipeg, as it will be the Jets’ first home game after a four-game trip. If Nashville shows an uptick in energy and performance in its first two games after the coaching change, this could prompt me to consider backing the Predators on the road. But if the coaching change doesn’t provide that initial spark, I’ll likely pass.